NEED FOR THE IDENTITY OF LAND TO BE ASCERTAINED

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CASE TITLE: SATI v. WAYA (2019) LPELR-47763(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 10TH JUNE, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: TANI YUSUF HASSAN, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on land law.

FACTS

This is an appeal from the judgment of Bauchi State High Court, delivered by A. H. Suleiman J.

In 1986, the Appellant’s father instituted an action at Doya Area Court, Bauchi, against the Respondent’s father, in respect of the land in dispute. Appellant’s father was said to have been in possession of the land for over 30 years then, having been granted same by the District Head of Tirwun, while the Respondent’s father claimed ownership of the land through purchase. The Appellant’s father again sued the Respondent’s father for trespass to the farmland before a District Court presided by a Chief Magistrate where the judgment was entered in favour of the Appellant’s father. Series of litigations were initiated by the parents of the parties, which continued after their demise by their heirs.

Appellant was claiming the disputed land to belong to his late father and the Respondent was also claiming the disputed property to belong to his late father. Appellant instituted an action at the trial Court claiming the following reliefs:

(a) A declaration that the act of the Defendant on the farmland constitutes trespass.
(b) The sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) as general damages for trespass.
(c) A perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant by himself, his servants, agents, privies or any other person deriving authority from him from entry or trespass into the farmland.

(d) The Plaintiff claims the sum of N500,000.00 (five hundred thousand naira) as special damages.

The Respondent also filed an Amended Statement of Defence and Counterclaim. The trial commenced on the case and at the end of the day, the Plaintiff/Appellant’s claims were dismissed and the Respondent’s counterclaim succeeded in part. Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Court determined the appeal on a sole issue:

“Whether the trial Court properly evaluated the evidence of the parties adduced before it.”

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and remitted the matter to the Chief Judge of Bauchi for rehearing before another judge.

RATIOS:

  • APPEAL- PROLIFERATION OF ISSUES: The rule against the proliferation of issues for determination
  • EVIDENCE- TRADITIONAL EVIDENCE/HISTORY: What is required of a person relying on evidence of traditional history in an action for declaration of title to land
  • EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF: Burden of proof on a defendant who counter-claims for a declaration for title of the same parcel of land as the claimant
  • JUSTICE- SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE: Attitude of courts to ensure substantial justice is done
  • LAND LAW- IDENTITY OF LAND: Need for the identity of land to be ascertained
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lawpavilion • July 2, 2019


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